Blues Today Music, Media & Health Summit to Discuss Musicians' Challenges


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Looking around in our community, there is no escaping the familiarity with the difficulties that we all face. Rising rents and rising food costs have become the norm. On top of these burdens are increasing educational and medical expenses, for those that even have modest access to these services. These struggles are even more dire for musicians within our community.

Historically, most musicians would hold down so-called day jobs to pay the bills, and play gigs to gain recognition, and with it, a following, allowing them to play more and work less. Even Muddy Waters and Albert King were known to work day jobs for a time, as did Buddy Guy. Today, with the economic state of affairs as it is, especially in minority communities, even most of those that hold jobs still are not gaining access to health care, and educational opportunities to better themselves and meet their needs. One exception is Toronzo Cannon, who drives a bus for Chicago’s CTA full time. He is fortunate enough that his company works with him to afford him the opportunities to play using earned time off, vacation, etc. Again, keep in mind that he is the exception.

One example of fallout from these difficulties is that when a musician falls ill or dies, the community will band together and hold a benefit to assist with recovery, medical and other bills, and final arrangements, if necessary. Another example is how musicians must struggle so mightily for radio play, royalties, and to be able to put back any nest egg for a rainy day. Then, of course, there is the adventure of navigating the social media universe to keep their music out there in the public’s eye, and their ears as well.

This Thursday, June 9th, 2016, Buddy Guy’s Legends will host the Blues Today Music, Media & Health Summit. Speakers will address these and other issues related to our beloved community’s musicians struggles to survive and thrive.

Speakers at this event include legendary blues DJ Sir Henry Cheatham from WVON/1690 AM, and Dr. Janice Johnston of the HART Fund and the Blues Foundation. Joining them are Chicago’s own Guy King, who will speak on historic players and the styles that influenced him, as well as entertain the crowd with a performance of his amazing music. Also on tap to speak about Chicago’s standard bearing record label, Delmark Records, are General Manager and A&R guru Steve Wagner, who also produces artists, and the label’s legendary founder, Bob Koester.

Emcee for the event will be Dr. Dan Ivankovich, named Chicagoan of the Year Chicago, Blues Hall of Fame Inductee, and CNN Hero. Known around town as “Chicago Slim,” this blues guitarist and world renowned surgeon has devoted untold hours of his own time working incessantly to assist the underserved minority communities of Chicago. He provides his expertise to people who would find it difficult to access quality health care, whether it’s working folks and musicians in the community, or disaster victims in Haiti.

Where:             Buddy Guy’s Legends – 700 Wabash Avenue

When:              2:00pm – 4:30pm

If you cannot make it to the event, it will be simulcast on